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Thursday, May 23, 2024

On London visit, Biden calls relations with Britain ‘rock solid’

Traditional allies stress friendship ahead of NATO summit despite disagreements over Ukraine accession, cluster bombs

Meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at his office in London on Monday, US President Joe Biden hailed the “rock-solid” relationship between the US and Britain.

The pair were photographed outside the door of 10 Downing Street shaking hands before going inside for a meeting that lasted 40 minutes.

Read more: US preparing ‘Israel-style’ security guarantees for Ukraine – Biden

Biden said he “couldn’t be meeting with a closer friend and greater ally” despite the recent disagreements over whether Ukraine’s accession to NATO should be fast-tracked and Washington’s plans to supply Ukraine with cluster munitions.

In an interview on Sunday, Biden said Kyiv is “not ready” to join NATO and that membership could only take place once the war is over, while the UK has been vocal about a fast-track accession of Ukraine to the North Atlantic alliance.

The US decision to arm Ukraine with the controversial cluster bombs caused a rift among NATO members ahead of the alliance’s summit this week in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The British premier recently said the UK “discourages” the use of the weapons.

“We stand as two of the firmest allies in that alliance and I know we’ll want to do everything we can to strengthen Euro-Atlantic security,” Sunak said.

Progress on Atlantic Declaration

According to an official statement by 10 Downing Street, the two spoke about bilateral relations, the Russia-Ukraine War, the Indo-Pacific, and Iran.

The leaders also discussed progress made since last month’s announcement of the Atlantic Declaration, a first-of-its kind framework for the economic partnership between the UK and US.

Read more: Newsweek reveals CIA role in Ukraine

“Since the Prime Minister and President Biden’s last meeting in the White House, we have begun work on a UK-US Critical Minerals Agreement and the Joint Action Group on Energy Security has met to begin work on strengthening our clean energy supply chains,” the statement said.

Both leaders will also hold the first high-level meeting between No. 10 and White House representatives in October to drive progress under the Atlantic Declaration.

It also stated that Sunak and Biden agreed on the need to strengthen the alliance and continue support for Ukraine ahead of the NATO summit in Lithuania this week.

“On broader NATO issues, they agreed on the need to ensure that Sweden has a swift path to full NATO accession,” it added.

Following his meeting with Sunak, Biden left central London to head west for his first in-person meeting with King Charles III at Windsor Castle.

Leaving the castle, Biden departed for the two-day NATO summit in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius.